Minnesota became the 32nd state of the union on May 11, 1858. A small extension of the northern boundary makes it the most northerly of the 48 conterminous U.S. states. (This peculiar protrusion is the result of a boundary agreement with Great Britain before the area had been carefully surveyed.) Minnesota is bounded by the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario to the north, by Lake Superior and Wisconsin to the east, by Iowa to the south and South Dakota and North Dakota to the west. Minnesota is the home of the Mall of America, which holds more than 400 stores and attracts nearly 40 million people a year.
Date of Statehood: May 11, 1858
Capital: St. Paul
Population: 5,303,925 (2010)
Size: 86,935 square miles
Nickname(s): Land of 10,000 Lakes; North Star State; Gopher State
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Motto: L’Étoile du Nord (“Star of the North”)
Tree: Red Pine
Flower: Pink and White Lady Slipper
Bird: Common Loon
- On December 26, 1862, 38 of 303 convicted Dakota Indians were hanged in Mankato in the largest mass execution in American history. Frustrated by the U.S. government’s failure to make treaty payments on time and supply their families with food as promised, a group of warriors killed several settlers, igniting an armed conflict that lasted four months. Although President Abraham Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 264 convicted Dakota, Congress passed a law expelling all Dakota bands from Minnesota a few months later.
- The first successful open heart surgery was performed on a 5-year-old girl on September 2, 1952, by Dr. Floyd John Lewis and Dr. Clarence Walton Lillehei at the University of Minnesota. With her body temperature reduced to 81 degrees Fahrenheit, the girl was able to survive for 10 minutes while the doctors repaired a congenital hole in her heart.
- Bloomington’s Mall of America, which opened in 1992, is the most visited shopping mall in the United States with roughly 40 million visitors each year. The megastructure encompasses 4.2 million square feet—enough space to fit 32 Boeing 747s inside.
- The skyway system in downtown Minneapolis is the world’s largest continuous indoor network of pedestrian pathways, stretching eight miles and connecting 73 blocks—making it possible to sleep, eat, work and shop without ever needing to step foot outside.
- Minnesota’s nickname is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” A more precise moniker would be the “Land of 11,842 Lakes.”